Tiffin, Ohio - March 2, 2011 - For Heidelberg University baseball, a multi-layered passion drives the program.
Individually, team members are committed to doing the day-to-day things right in the classroom, in the community, in practice and with their families.
As a team, they share a desire to do great things, a dedication to details and a willingness to put their teammates first.
These passions will continue to carry the Berg to new heights in the 2011 campaign.
Matt Palm is in his 12th year in the dugout and his focus has not changed since he moved to Tiffin, Ohio and took over the program in 2000. “We have been successful because of the great student-athletes that are coming to campus. They are doing the right things and they have their eyes set on success across the board, not just on winning. Since they do such a great job off the field as well, it has made the whole process fun.”
Over the last 11 years, Heidelberg has emerged as one of the premier programs in NCAA Division III baseball. The program has a 70.2 winning percentage and is the four-time defending Ohio Athletic Conference Champion. Since 2000, Heidelberg has won at least 23 games each year, eclipsing the 30-win plateau on six occasions and finished with a record-setting 42-8 campaign in 2010, besting its mark of 41 wins in 2008. They have been the top-seed of the Mideast Regional three years running.
The program’s unheralded success has not gone unnoticed. Last year, Heidelberg ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation in the D3Baseball.com poll. A year later, the team has moved up a spot and is heading into 2011 as the top team.
Heidelberg is coming off a year of capturing both the Ohio Athletic Conference Regular Season and Tournament trophies, along with winning its first Mideast Regional and making its first appearance at the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship.
Heidelberg returns seven starting position players, four starting pitchers and its top closer in 2011.
Leading the way is the veteran infield. Up the middle, the senior All-American combination of Jason Lash at short stop and Gar Keen at second base has started all but one game since stepping on campus. Not far off at the hot corner is All-American Willie Brechun, who moved into the starting line up midway through his freshman season. And rounding out the infield is first baseman Derek Andrzejczak, who is coming off his junior year as a full-time starter.
The entire outfield returns. Ricardo Lizcano returns as an All-American to right field and is the reigning Mideast Region and the OAC Jack Rafeld Player of the Year. He led the team in a host of statistical categories as a sophomore and is poised to continue his strong presence in the outfield, as well as in the leadoff spot. Seniors Alex Monroe and Andrew Buelow return in left and center field, respectively, while junior utility Elvin Williams Jr. provides added depth. Williams also spends time in the pitching rotation.
Sophomore right-hander Ethan Holt returns as the No. 1 pitcher. Senior right-handers Brian Koehl and Nathan James and junior right-hander Sylvester Nino also return to the starting rotation. Mainstays out of the bullpen for middle relief are senior left-hander Brandon Stucky and junior right-hander Daniel Brannum.
Andy Lowe is in his final campaign at Heidelberg and returns as the two-time OAC Kent Tekulve Pitcher of the Year and the Mideast Region Pitcher of the Year. He is an All-American right-hander who has set a new single season saves record each year on his way to being the career leader.
“Our passion we have is going to help us bring it all together,” said Keen. And when you ask the senior class what they want to do this year they will simple say, in unison, “Finish.”